I enjoyed Uprooted tremendously. This was the first book I’ve read by Naomi Novik, so I was delighted to see that this isn’t the first book she’s written. More for me to check out, once I lower the height of the stack on my bedside stand a little.
Novik has a style very similar to Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley (who had better be busy at work on the sequel to Pegasus, because that’s no way to end a story), both writers who I read without hesitation whenever they release a new book. In fact, Uprooted bears some psychic resemblance to The Forgotten Beasts of Eld although the story is completely different. They both have that sense of inevitability as the story unfolds.
Uprooted is the story of Agnieszka, a young woman from a small rural town, who is unexpectedly selected to work for the local magician. Every 10 years a young woman is selected and after 10 years released. This time everyone knows that Kasia will be selected; she’s the special one. Instead, the magician chooses Agnieszka.
Although it’s clear to us why he’s chosen her, he’s not a terribly good communicator and she is messy, clumsy, desperate to escape, and entirely confused about why she’s there and what she’s supposed to do. All she knows is that the valley is dependent on the magician to keep the valley safe, but all he seems to want to do is torture her. It’s not until a visiting prince attempts to molest her and she batters him unconscious with a tea tray that things begin to come together.
The characters are believable and interesting. The story deliberately avoids the traditional hero plot line as well as the traditional earth mother plot line and tells its own story very nicely. The magic is as natural as breathing. I suspected a different climactic scene than what I got, but what I got was satisfying in its own way.